Housed in Gdańsk’s medieval Foregate building (once home to the Prison Tower and Torture Chamber), this multi-story exhibit delves extensively into the history of Baltic amber. The impressive collection of “inclusions” (when bugs or plants are caught inside the amber) is intriguing to look at, and the many amber creations, from inkwells to spoons to a stunning Fender Stratocaster guitar, shows the material’s diversity. A large open room at the top of the building houses an impressive array of modern amber jewellery that appears more artistic than wearable.

Many find the separate exhibits on the building’s past as a torture chamber uncomfortable – and considering the piped-in soundtrack of pained cries, we understand why – but they are a must-see, if for no other reason to find out what “thumb screwing” and a “heretic’s fork” are. Many of the exhibit rooms throughout the ancient building are small and cramped, and if you happen to visit on the same day as a school group it’s a nightmare.

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Category: Museums in Poland

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Steffen Meyer (5 months ago)
Interesting exhibition about amber and it's history in the baltic region. Interesting exponats, from amber containing 40 million year old insects, to old and current jewellery. The building itself is also interesting, with it's winding stairs and flair.
Sue Lee (5 months ago)
Lovely ceiling in red room but rest of museum disappointing. It's worth a train ride to see the largest brick castle this has alot more history.
Oliwia Biros (5 months ago)
It's a very unique place definitely worth visiting when in Gdansk. The museum is located in the gothic fore gate complex that consists of the Prison Tower, City's Courthouse and theTorture Chamber. This multi-story exhibit presents the history of Baltic Amber, methods of extraction, history of the trade routes, uses in medicine, and an artistic material. The Amber collection is quite impressive.
Jon Scar (6 months ago)
Must visit ...historical building ...intresting
Unnar Reynisson (10 months ago)
Discrimination and unprofessional are the words that come in mind. 23.7.18 I went to the Gdańsk Amber museum with my family and friends. This was one of the most important things on our to-do list on our visit to Gdańsk. We payed for the visit like anyone else. I bought tickets for two adults and one child. When visiting the first room there was a female member of the staff who talked to us in polish. We asked what she was saying in english, but she continued to talk to us in polish and then walked away. A few other guests were there, including a woman with a young boy. The woman asked your staff member about something and it looked like the employee was really helpful to them. My son, who is 12-years-old, was reading on one of the interactive monitors when said employee came to the monitor, pushed my son away and showed the other boy something on the monitor. I didn't try to complain to that member of your staff because there was no way for us to communicate. She didn't speak english and I don't speak polish. My son was really disappointed with this treatment and did not enjoy the rest of of the visit and just wanted to leave. None of us could really enjoy the rest of the visit, but we continued anyway. When I came back to the ticket office I complained to the member of staff working there. She told me she had to make some calls, which she did. It took about 15 - 20 minutes and in the end she told me there was nothing she could do for me. I told her that this treatment was unacceptable and that I wanted a refund, preferably for all of us but at least for my son. She told me she could do no such thing, only her boss could do that. She gave me this email address and told me to write an email with my complaint. She informed me that she wasn't sure if it could be understood in any other language other than polish. Then she told me she was sorry about this. I have to say I am really disappointed with our visit and don't think anyone should be treated that way, no matter what age they are, their place of birth, gender, language or any other differences your guests might have. I sent the email when i got back to the place we stayed. A week later i got a reply from the office; two lines "We are very sorry for the situation described in your mail. We are trying to do our best to satisfy the visitors, however, no matter how we try, it is impossible to avoid all unpleasant situation. We care about the quality of our service and satisfaction of our guests therefore we would like to apologize you and your son for this situation. For our part we will strengthen and intensify our efforts to avoid the similar situation in the future." If you don't speak polish or have children with you I would not recommend visit to the museum.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.